Just discovered Microsoft Volume Licensing, and I'm SO lost!
January 20, 2016 11:05 AM   Subscribe

I've never used Microsoft Volume Licensing before and I'm COMPLETELY overwhelmed. Anyone out there able to give me a quick overview, or can point me to one?

Hi! I work for a small-medium business (less than 30 computers total). I've always disregarded Microsoft Volume Licensing as being for business MUCH larger than ours, but I recently found out from a friend that you can get started with only five licenses.

However, as I've tried to dig into it, I'm getting VERY lost. There are a LOT of acronyms, and what I'm seeing from MS is not really explained very well. I understand I could get in touch with one of their sales people, but I don't really want to talk to them without having SOME idea what I'm targeting, as I'm afraid of getting railroaded into much more than we need.

Are there any good overviews out there, that I can digest and just try to understand the basic options available? Ideally something less than 5-10 pages that will give me a birds-eye view of what my different choices are, and a rough price of each? I really feel this must be out there, but if it is, my Google Fu is failing me.

Thank you!
posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a lot of trouble with their docs too but their support people have been really nice over the last year when I've been getting Microsoft stuff set up. Maybe give them a call and see what they say?
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:27 AM on January 20, 2016

Best answer: Give a reseller like CDW a call, tell them what you have right now for software, and they'll get you set up with any better options. They have people on staff whose entire purpose is to handle licensing. If you do all your licensing through them, they can handle Microsoft audits for you as well.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2016

Response by poster: >"…they can handle Microsoft audits for you as well."

This is part of my concern, actually - stuff like that. I didn't even know using MVL would trigger audits. Not that a MS audit (specifically) is a problem, mind you, but that's the sort of thing I'm trying to discover before moving forward.

But it seems from both of your answers that the best course of action is to get in touch directly with MS or a reseller, and trust that they won't railroad me.
posted by TrueVox at 11:35 AM on January 20, 2016

Best answer: We're larger than you, but still definitely a small business and have never been audited, as far as I know. You're a very little fish. I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Shop around to different resellers. CDW is probably *the* most expensive. Others may provide just as good service for less money. Dell used to do this, but it's been years since I've done direct purchasing.

Also, be prepared, because Microsoft licensing changes completely every 6-18 months. It has been like that forever, and probably always will be like that in the future.
posted by cnc at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2016

Best answer: Are you looking at all Microsoft licenses or just Office? If just Office then Office 365 subscriptions are probably an easier approach (you can deploy desktop versions from Office 365 and you buy direct from Microsoft). For volume licensing you use the VLSC site and buy from a re-seller.

As mentioned you purchase from CDW or another reselller, (you will be buying Open licenses, the other tiers are for hundreds or non-profit, etc). They work with MS and send you a license certificate. You add to your VLSC login with an authorization number and from there you can download the software and keys. They also provide keys for volume deployment if you are set up this way.

I manage this so feel free to PM me.

For audits MS have been aggressive in auditing in the last 18 months, it is a no fault audit and is mainly a revenue generating activity. It is basically a audit that you return to them. If you have everything in VLSC then they can match your deployment with what you have bought. We were audited last year, it was a good deal of work for a 100 person company, we had OEM, retail, VLSC and 365 licenses and it was for all Microsoft software), but amicable. If you are in VLSC you will likely get audited, but if you are current or a couple of subs off then it is nothing to worry about, as long as you get current.
posted by Disco Moo at 1:34 PM on January 20, 2016

Best answer: On /r/sysadmin they have a day where people can asks if they are being screwed by vendors and others will chime in to say how much they are paying for comparable services. A lot of VARs will also answer questions as to pricing and such. I find that group to be well worth my time just to know others have it worse and I am not alone.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:26 AM on January 21, 2016

Response by poster: OK, this is great information! Thank you, everyone, for your contributions, and I'm SO glad that some of you seem as befuddled by this as I am. :)

I think I have my path forward now, thank you all!
posted by TrueVox at 12:00 PM on January 21, 2016

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